Not an April Fool’s: Discount for Critiques/Beta Reads

If you follow me on the Twitters then you know my poor puppy, Brody, has not had a good couple of months.

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At the beginning of February he had a gland infection that was pretty bad, but thankfully with antibiotics, cleared up quickly.

Shortly thereafter, literally 48 hours, he scratched his eye. Something, like a mote of dust, got in his eye, made him sneeze and we watched him, as if in slow motion, reach up with his paw to scratch his face. We stopped him, but that one swipe was all it took. When we woke up in the morning he wouldn’t–or couldn’t–open his left eye.

Our vet office is great and got in him that morning. Yes, he’d scratched his cornea. So they did all the things they do and gave me some antibiotic drops to keep it from getting infected. Sadly, every single time I put a drop in his eye, you’d think I’d re-injured it. He’d be doing okay, his eye open and personality good, then it was time for drops and bam, eye closed and laying on his bed for hours. When it was finally doing better, it would be time for the drops again and the cycle started anew. The doc agreed that was weird and gave me some new drops made from his own blood cells.

Same damn thing. He’d seem fine, then time for drops, pain.

So we tried a healing gel with hylauranic adic.

SAME DAMN THING.

So I trusted my gut after 3 weeks of this nonsense and quite a bit of money, and on that Monday I said, “No more drops. Only the pain meds.” He had an appointment that Thursday. So three days with no drops. And the change was amazing. His eye looked better every day, almost perfect when I took him back. And the doc admitted he was finally healing, it was in fact 80% healed then.

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But we were out of pain meds so I asked for more to get us through that last 20% but the doc didn’t want him on them long term so she said no. I was uncomfortable with that.

And, lo and behold, the healing slowed dramatically. So a different doc at the office agreed to another week of meds, but said if it didn’t heal, I’d have to take him to an ophthalmologist to have an grid keratotomy done. And, if like me, you have no idea what that is, it’s where they take this teeny tiny drill with a diamond head and scratch a hashtag-like mark over the injury and this will cause the white blood cells to attack and make it heal. Supposedly.

Saturday was the pup’s 11th birthday. And I looked at him and saw that his eye looked damn near perfect. So much so that I tempted the Fates and said so out loud.

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And then last night, around dinner time, I looked at him and saw that his third eyelid was up and he was trying to keep the eye closed.

Reader, my heart sank.

This morning, it looked just as bad. So I’ve obviously called the Ophthalmologist. But they can’t see him until Thursday and the consultation alone is going to be $163.

And last week a large part of our car’s engine failed and it’s going into the shop tomorrow. So, as you can imagine, things are very tight right now. And that’s where you come in, maybe.

To help offset these unexpected costs I am offering a 10% discount on all my manuscript critique services and professional beta reading services. All you have to do to get the discount is email me (shaunagranger82@gmail.com) with the information of your project and mention Brody’s name or this blog post by the end of April. That’s it! Check out the info here.

And, if you want to snag this deal but don’t have an MS ready yet, you can still get the deal by reserving your future spot and paying a 10% deposit. If you’re ready now, I do have a couple of openings this month!

Now, if you’d like to help out but don’t have a book to be critiqued or beta’d, you can become a Patreon, so you’ll still get some benefit from your monies. Or, if you’re just some eccentric person who likes to send money to people, I am also on Venmo and Paypal and my bank is with Zelle!

Venmo: https://venmo.com/Shauna-Granger

Paypal: paypal.me/thegrangers

Bank-to-bank supported by Zelle: shaunagranger82@gmail.com

Look at this face! How can you resist helping this face! And, if you’re a fan of my Ash & Ruin Series, you know Brody was the inspiration for Blue!

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Writing Help: Updates on Services

Hello my darlings. I just wanted to give you an update on the services I offer outside of my own fiction writing.

Many of you know that I offer manuscript critique services, if you don’t, check out that link and find out! But now I am also offering content editing! I realized that, while I enjoy doing MS critiques, I often found myself offering more insight than the writer was looking for, so, since I can’t seem to help myself, I am now offering it as a service.

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I have updated the prices to better reflect the service offered and hopefully they’re affordable to you.

Check out my page explaining the two services and then pop over to the pricing pages for critiques or content editing and decide what is a better fit for you. I have openings now and I’ve been in a reading slump, so if you’ve got something cool, magical, or scary, or all of the above(!) hit me up!

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Also, I’ve updated my benefit tiers over on Patreon with some new, exciting rewards so I would love it if you checked that out as well. You can be as helpful as a tiny sprite or become one of my Best Witches or be a magical creature, whatever level you’re comfortable with and know that I appreciate all of it! And you’ll get some cool, even magical rewards in the process!

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Revising, editing, and all the rough drafts.

As I sit down to work on yet another rough draft, I thought it might be interesting to read about how I revise and edit a new book. Because I also offer manuscript critique services, I see a lot of books before they’re ready from new writers. It’s always hard to know when a book is done and it’s time to let it go out into the world and flourish or die by its own merit, but you do need to spend a significant amount of time on it before that happens.

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First, I outline the story. When I was a new writer, I didn’t outline because I lost the urgency to tell the story, so if you’re not an outliner, don’t freak out; everyone is different and things change from book to book.

Once the outline is done, I fast draft the book. This means I write daily, usually taking 1-2 days off a week so I don’t burn out, until it’s done. There are some days where I might just get 500 words or 1,000 words, but my goal is 2-4k words a day. But, again, every book is different. As long as I make some progress, I’m happy.

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Then, when that first draft is done, I back up my work in 2-3 different places. I like to email myself the document every day so I don’t ever lose any work. But when I finish, I email myself again the completed document. I also save it to a memory stick. This way, if something happens to my computer, my book is safely stored in two places that can’t also be damaged by whatever killed my computer. When I was writing my fourth book, Fire, my hard-drive crashed and I lost about 20k words because I wasn’t in the habit of emailing myself on the daily, just at the end of a draft. It was devastating. Never again!

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Then I walk away. I close the file on the computer and I don’t look at it again for at least a week, sometimes as much as six months. Again, it depends on the book (and deadlines). But I get away from it and do other things. I clean the house, I read other people’s books, I relax. I do things that have nothing to do with the book I was writing. I may even start writing (and finish) another book before I ever come back to it. There’s a few reasons for this but the main reason is so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

You just spent a couple of months to the better part of a year focused on this one story, it’s been loud in your head, the characters alive and and controlling. If you come back too soon, you’ll remember everything and you won’t see mistakes, you won’t find the plot holes, you won’t pick up on the weaknesses or the thin characters. You need to read your rough draft as though you weren’t the one who wrote it.

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I like to print out a copy of the MS to go over it the first time. This way I’m not working on it in the same medium that I wrote it. I am familiar with it on the computer screen, so my eyes and mind might trick me into reading it the way I wanted it to be, not the way it is. By printing it, it becomes a new book and I can take a bright red pen to it and make corrections and notes to transcribe back on the computer. That’s the second draft.

Now, depending on the book, this is the right time to give it to beta readers to go over. I like to have at least two readers, but three is ideal. You want readers who will give it back to you in 2-4 weeks. This gives you another break away from the book, but also ensures your readers focus on your book so they don’t forget what they read in the first half because they took so long to finish it.

Wait to make any changes to your MS until you hear back from all betas. This gives you the chance to see if critiques are just personal preference or if you really missed something because they all mentioned the same thing(s).

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Now I go over the book again, this time on the computer, comparing beta notes, seeing if I agree or not. If I agree with a change, I have to make sure I thread it through the whole book. That’s the third draft.

Now I put it on a tablet to read it as an ebook. You may need another break or you may be ready to just dive in. So, again, I’m reading it in a different medium and more like any reader who bought it would read it. I use the highlight and note function to keep track of issues and changes I want to make. Once I make those changes, I’ve got a fourth draft.

Only on the 3rd or 4th draft does my editor get the book. Because I self-publish, I pay my editor for her services, so why in the world would I send her a book before it’s ready? I wouldn’t, and neither should you. I often get MSs that are not ready and people are paying me a fee to go over the book and 90% of the time, most of my notes could have been caught by the author or by a beta reader to be addressed for free.

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Once I get my MS back from my editor and implement the line-edits and content-edits, I am up to the fifth draft. Guess what? It goes back for a proof-reader to comb to make sure we didn’t miss any tiny mistakes.

So, in the end, I’m publishing the 5th or 6th draft. I don’t always use beta readers because sometimes I’m up to the 5th, 6th, or 7th book in a series and I can’t expect friends to do that much work for me. But the first book in a series? A stand alone? A trilogy? Yes, I use beta readers for all of those.

You will get to the point where you start to hate your book because you’ve read it so many times, but that’s what it takes to polish it, to develop those characters, to make the plot compelling. This is the work that goes into a book. Getting that first draft is the easy part, making it a book is where the hard work really is.

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Writing is re-writing. This is the rule you should be living by.

The poor neglected blog…

Hello my lovelies!

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog, but if you’ve been around for awhile, you know that radio silence (except for the tweets and sporadic FB posts) means deadline brain for Shauna.

I’ve had a lot of projects going on and they’ve been taking a lot of out me lately. I’m actually juggling about four different projects in four different stages.

You’ll remember that a couple of weeks ago I revealed my super-secret-smexy pen name. With a pen name that means extra writing. So I finished two novellas for that persona last month, editor extraordinaire, Cassie, fixed and polished one and made it publication ready. And it is published, over here (and here and here and here). But her schedule is so full because she is so awesome that novella number two won’t hit her desk until the first of September. In the meantime I’m supposed to be writing novella number 3, and I am, but very slowly.

I realized last month that, since January, I’ve written over 250,000 words. Look at that again, over a quarter of a million words. That is insane. And totally explains why around June-July my brain said, “Nope. You’re done. That’s quite enough for now.” But it’s never enough, not if you’re a full-time writer, trying to live off your writing. And my readers have let me know you and all of them are WAITING. Patiently. But nonetheless WAITING.

So, I started Novella #3, which is the third in the Roxy Quinn novellas since I managed to get six of the Taryn Malloy novellas out and bundled them into two omnibusesElfmoon Trilogy

And the other project I’m working on is the first in a brand-spanking-new trilogy. I have just finished draft number three! Woot! Which means it’s ready for le editor extraordinaire part deux. As I said before, Cassie is so awesome her schedule is slammed, so I am working with a new editor on this project, the equally awesome Lauren.

tumblr_mr9yooy3tv1s2peono1_500Editing, proofing and revising is kind of insane. Usually when you edit, you cut, cut, cut and add a little here and there. But it is a lot of cutting, a lot. But not this book, not this time. This time, with each draft I’ve added more words than I’ve cut. I had planned on this book being around 75k words, instead it is toeing the line at 100k. A huge part of those 250k+ words I mentioned. But hey, we like big books, right? Right.

So, my hubs is beta reading the book right now (and thank gods because he’s caught three, yes, THREE, mistakes so far. And I don’t me typos, I mean errors in the story). And Lauren will rip it apart and help me put it back together. Then, after all that, three amazing writer friends of mine, Nicole, Brian and Leah, will read it and critique it and rip it apart some more and hopefully offer some band aids to fix it. And who knows what the word count will be then.

I wrote this book in the month of Feb, the opening scene was stuck in my head and really wanted out. It’s a genre I’ve tumblr_mqrf5bDI7f1s2peono1_500never written before, I read it and enjoy it, but never tried my hand at it. So this time around we’re dealing with a Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal story with a strong romance subplot (you’re welcome). With a little pressure from my cover artist, I finally came up with a title, which I’m excited to share with you, but not just yet. When I do the cover reveal you will know. Speaking of, I can’t wait to see what Stephanie comes up with. Steph, you’ll remember, did the covers for Air, Water, Fire and Spirit. She is awesomesauce and I am excited.

So, all of that is going on and I’m brainstorming my next novel. I have another novel complete and proofed and already beta read, but I have been trying to shop that with agents and editors. I’ve had a few bites, and some lines are still out there, waiting to be heard from, but nothing too exciting yet. I would love to have both, self-published and traditionally published books out in the world. But I knew the Dystopian/Post-Apoca genre is kinda saturated right now and most agents don’t want any more of those subbed, but I really like this book (I think) so I want it out there for readers, so it’s getting self-published. I’m thinking of a December release. Official date to come. Soon.

But that next book I just mentioned. I want to start outlining it in September, after novella #3 is in Cassie’s hands and I don’t have to think about it anymore. I had an agent reach out to me after the revelation of my pen name and said she was looking for the genre I write under that name. Super excited to hear that, I decided I would try to write a full length erotic novel, but you know me, it’s gotta have some magic in it. So I’m going with Urban Fantasy again and I already know what species the main character will be and what her struggle is. I’m just not sure what her story for this one contained book will be, but I think she has the potential for a strong, long series. Here’s hoping I can do it well and the agent will want it once it’s done!

So in Sept, I start outlining that book to start writing in October. I have a January 1st deadline with Cassie, so that just gives me three months to have it written and proofed. Which means, I’ll probably be doing NaNoWriMo again this year to help me get it done in time.

All that and I have finally succumbed to the desire to cut my hair. I realized I’d had my hair long for three years, after spending two years growing it out, and it hasn’t really changed much in those three years. I’ve always liked changing my hairphoto (24) but I had missed having long hair so I held on to it for a long time. But with working so much I tended to just pull it up into a top knot 5 days out of the week, which isn’t awesome. So two weeks ago I did the first chop, which I really liked the look of, but it was a shoulder-length cut and I’m not a shoulder-length kinda girl. That length always feels like an in-between, like growing out short hair. It’s not the length I’m going to keep it. So that meant calling my stylist again within two weeks for the real chop. And now I’m much happier. Yeah, I already miss the long hair, but that’s okay, I can always grow it out again.

Now. Back to real writing.